Verint Systems is a leading provider of analytic software and hardware based solutions for the security, surveillance, and business intelligence markets. Their products include speech analysis software (used for IVR systems) and IP surveillance cameras and “smart” video surveillance analysis software. For nearly a decade Olivier Georlette has been putting his strong IT background to work making Verint succeed in Japan.
How long have you been in Japan?
I have been in Japan for about nine years with Verint, which sent me over to start its business here. I was lucky to have the chance to start a new business, to increase the sales through creation of new partnerships, to hire a team of amazing employees, and to go through M&A in Japan. When I started I was doing everything alone, and I spent many sleepless nights at customer sites.
Please tell us a bit about your company.
Verint Systems is a leading provider of Actionable Intelligence solutions for enterprise workforce optimization and security intelligence. Our solutions help governments and enterprises make sense of the vast information they collect in order to achieve their performance and security goals. Today our solutions are used by more than 10,000 organizations in 150 countries. Verint is headquartered in Melville, New York, with offices worldwide and 2,500 dedicated professionals around the globe. We have many customers using our intelligent voice recorders for their contact centers, dealing rooms, and back offices. Verint Japan has many prestigious customers in the finance, telecom, and outsourcing markets.
What is your background and how did you arrive at your current position?
I am originally from Belgium, where I spent my childhood. Later on I moved with my parents to Israel, where I spent 15 years. I also studied for a master’s degree in engineering and worked in different technology companies. As most people know, Israel is famous for being a very inventive place and for bringing many new technologies to the market. Because of my experience working in Asia, I was then recruited by Verint to start their business in Japan. My current day-to-day duties include overseeing both the operations side and the sales sides of the business. I am also overseeing our sales in Korea.
What are some of the major challenges your business faces in Japan?
Japan provides a big challenge to any foreign entrepreneur or executive. One challenge is making sure the goods meet Japanese expectations. Customers in Japan expect much more detailed explanations and high quality. Another challenge is branding—branding is more important in Japan than in any other country. There is usually a clear market leader which is way ahead of any other competitor, and to change that situation takes a long time. There are many examples of this in the fashion industry, the car industry, and many other areas. What kind of advice would you give to aspiring professionals?
If you are a foreigner who just arrived in Japan, I would advise you first to learn the language—knowledge of the local language is always an asset. A second important point is to listen to the customer’s needs, ask questions, and validate your assumptions or conclusions to make sure there is agreement. Last but not least, if you come to Japan, you must be ready for the long haul, therefore patience is key.
What do you do for fun in Japan?
I have a wonderful wife, two and a half children (two teenagers with a third on the way), and a dog. This keeps me pretty busy most of the time. In my free time I like to meet friends, eat at nice restaurants (luckily Tokyo has plenty of them), play sports, and read books. Recently I started to learn golf. I am also a member of the Belgium Luxemburg Chamber of Commerce, in order to keep in contact with other Belgian business people.